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Boulder County Won’t Extend Drilling Moratorium

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) – At least two northern Colorado communities are looking to impose strict regulations on oil and gas drilling instead of stopping it all together.

On Tuesday, Boulder County commissioners voted against extending a moratorium on new wells that is set to expire June 10 and instead will try to phase in planned oil and gas development in the eastern half of the county.

The Longmont Times-Call reported that commissioners could limit the number of locations where drilling could occur. The county adopted new drilling regulations in December and commissioners are expected to consider additional rules on June 5.

Commissioner Deb Gardner said she hopes the county will be able to hire its own inspectors and technical experts to monitor wells — possibly around the clock — before new drilling occurs.

Meanwhile, the Fort Collins City Council voted 4-3 to lift its drilling moratorium Tuesday, allowing Prospect Energy to drill in two areas under regulations stricter than the state’s.

Under an operating agreement approved by councilors, drilling would be allowed in an oil field on the northeast edge of the city and in a 2-square-mile area near the Anheuser-Busch brewery. But Prospect Energy cannot re-enter plugged and abandoned wells, and the company must also have $10 million in insurance to cover cleanup costs in the event of an accident.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported the vote came after dozens of residents urged councilors to keep the ban and prevent the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Mayor Pro Tem Gerry Horak said keeping the ban would invite a costly lawsuit that the city would have little chance of winning.

“We have an agreement that is far and above anything else in the state,” Horak said.

Fort Collins councilors passed a ban on fracking in March with the caveat that they would allow drilling by individual companies that agree to follow strict environmental standards.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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